First she was in, and then out, and now possibly in again.
Two weeks ago, it appeared the racing career of star mare Jolie’s Shinju was over, as she was diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmia after an uncharacteristically-poor performance in the JRA Cup at Moonee Valley in Australia, ending not only her AUS-G1 Cox Plate campaign, but essentially her career back home in Singapore.
On Thursday, she galloped carrying an ECG scanner, and was passed fit to start in Saturday’s AUS-G2 Tristarc Stakes at Caulfield. Whether she performs well enough will determine if new trainer Len Treloar starts her in next weekend’s Cox Plate.
Caulfield’s Spring Carnival wraps up with a bevy of group races this weekend, culminating in the US$2.3 million AUS-G1 Caulfield Cup, a major prep for November 3’s AUS-G1 Melbourne Cup. Four top horses—Baughurst, Shocking, Newport and Miss Darcey—failed to draw into the field, but there are 18 other top runners that make this a very tough race.
Top-weight Viewed finished tenth in last year’s edition, before shocking (at 44-1) in winning the Melbourne Cup. Although he hasn’t visited the winner’s circle since, he does appear to be rounding into peak condition faster this spring and will have no problem with the sting out of the track, currently listed as DEAD (yielding) with showers. Off a distant fourth-place finish behind Gio Ponti in the US-G1 Arlington Million, Cima de Triomphe is getting some play, but I find it hard to believe this much-traveled Euro-invader is a real threat against the top Aussie and Kiwi horses. Ditto for Kirklees who, despite three consecutive wins, failed horribly in the UAE-G1 Sheema Classic in Dubai earlier this year, the only time he’s faced this quality of competition. As much as I like C’est La Guerre, he’s never won or placed in four tries at Caulfield, much like Fiumicino who’s failed there in seven tries. So, who do I like?
The New Zealand mare Daffodil looks very strong, especially with her weight assignment and the current track condition. Low-weight mare Allez Wonder, with Michelle Payne aboard, could be a huge surprise, as could 7-year-old gelding Master O’Reilly who has been close-up in many of his races over the past year, including a fourth-place finish (two lengths back) in last year’s Melbourne Cup. Predatory Pricer is a huge chance and a must-use in all exotics, as is Light Vision.
[UPDATE: Bart Cummings gets the exacta, with Foolish Pleasure descendent Viewed ($34.60 win) and Roman Emperor ($16.80 place), followed by Vigor ($9.20 show), and my girl Daffodil in fourth. Urgh! Instead of boxing 1, 7, 13 for the exacta, I boxed it for the tri—and get nothing]
[UPDATE on UPDATE: I just checked my balance and I DID win that trifecta because it was 1, 7, ALL. Thus, I'm $235.65 richer!! Yay!]
In the AUS-G3 Norman Robinson Stakes (4A), Shamoline Warrior—half-brother to last year’s AUS-G1 Victoria Derby victor Rebel Raider—looks quite strong, having defeated fellow runners Tribunal and Saint Encosta last out. However, AUS-G1 Champagne winner Onemorenomore returns to his own age group after taking on his elders—and new jock Glen Boss loves these “big day” races.
[UPDATE: Shamoline Warrior ($5.30 win) over Onemorenomore ($5.50 place) makes chalky $28.80 exacta.]
Royal Discretion won last year’s AUS-G3 Moonga (Betfair) Stakes (5A), but not sure I’d back him over Rightfully Yours or the game warrior Sniper’s Bullet. McClintock is likely to finish in the top fours.
[UPDATE: Mcclintock ($20.80 win) upsets Rightfully Yours ($4.70 place) for descent $53.10 exacta.]
In the AUS-G2 Tristarc Stakes (6A), Hot Danish will be hard to beat, but if Jolie’s Shinju is truly back in form, these two could provide us with a race for the ages. Typhoon Tracy would prefer a rock-hard track, but is still a threat—and don’t count out Neroli or Gold Water. For a price, you can’t go wrong with Velocitea, and maybe Glowlamp’s time has come?
[UPDATE: Typhoon Tracy ($9.00 win) easily defeats Hot Danish ($3.30 place), but (surprise!) my little girl Glowlamp (at least 99-1) got third ($29.50 show) over Neroli. Jolie’s Shinju led, but faded to mid-pack. No Cox Plate would be my guess.]
Three of the four excluded from the Caulfield Cup go instead in the AUS-G3 David Jones Coongy Cup (7A), with the best hope of them being Baughurst. The big question is can Drumbeats get 2000 meters? I love Dwayne Dunn back on Cape d’Amore, and Ulysses should be there at the finish, as will Pre Eminence.
[UPDATE: Baughurst ($7.40 win) beat Shocking ($6.00 place)—Drumbeats finished within the top five or six.]
Finally, in the AUS-G2 Caulfield Sprint (9A), I’m all over Phelan Ready, Turffontein, and First Command. Diplomatic Force always run well first up, but the soft going won’t favor him.
[UPDATE: Favorite First Command ($4.30 win) defeated Turffontein ($16.80 place) with Happy Glen ($20.20 show) fleshing out the trifecta]